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Chow Hounds: Why our dogs are fatter

louie2If your dog is fat — and statistics indicate nearly half are — you might want to check Dr. Ernie Ward’s  recent online chat, sponsored by the Washington Post.

About 45 percent of all adult dogs and 58 percent of cats are overweight.  That’s 34 million fat dogs and 54 million fat cats — all at risk for diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, kidney disease, cancer and more.

Ward recently published a book on the pet obesity epidemic, “Chow Hounds: Why Our Dogs Are Getting Fatter – A Vet’s Plan to Save Their Lives” (2010 HCI Publishing).

Here are a few excerpts from his online chat:  

“No one is getting enough physical activity in this country. This is why owning a dog is a great incentive for exercise. All dogs need at least 20-30 minutes of aerobic intensity walking per day. Larger breeds often need much more… 

“Neutering and spaying reduces a dog or cat’s metabolic rate by  25-35%. This is why you can not feed according to pet food labels. These guidelines are made for intact adult pets. In my book, I go into considerable detail on how to calculate the exact number of calories your pet needs each day based on its lifestyle…

“Most dogs eat until the are full and tend not to overeat. The reasons that dogs overeat are largely due to the changes in dog food formulation, hence the term ‘Kibble Crack’ I use in Chow Hounds. I go into great detail on how pet food companies have added sugar and fat to trick a dog’s normal appetite…”

Then there was this exchange, and I can only hope both were joking:

Q. ”I like to carry my little dog around in my purse. Is there anything I could get for the dog to exercise while in the purse? You know, like a wheel for him to run in?”

 A. “I recently patented the ‘pocket treadmill.’ I would be glad to sell you a prototype.”

Ward directs those wanting to learn more to the Association for Pet Obesity’s website, to visit his own website, or, of course, to read his book.

Comments

Comment from Jonathan Gilbert
Time April 15, 2010 at 9:37 am

IMO allowing a dog to become obese is nothing short cruelty and abuse..

Comment from Anne’n'Spencer
Time April 15, 2010 at 2:33 pm

It helps to remember that dogs are predators. In nature, they hunt for their food, then gorge on the kill. They’re naturally on the move a great deal. It is their natural instinct to eat as much as they can, whenever they can, because a predator is never sure when the next meal will present itself. And a predator is seldom fat because getting enough to eat is hard work. It’s up to us to feed our dogs appropriate amounts of food, to give them appropriate exercise, and to ignore their requests for more, more more. They’re working on instinct, and we need to make their food choices for them. I’m just assuming that much the same is true for cats. I’m also amazed at how much easier it is for me to watch my dog’s weight than it is to watch my own.

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